Commentary

Heyer's Clarion Call To Marketers

When Steve Heyer, ex-ad man and Coca-Cola’s new president and chief operating officer, said in a speech that he was not happy with how his dollars had been spent marketing Coke (saying that he wanted and expected more,) he sounded like a lot of CEOs under pressure to get their market share – along with their stock price – up.

But then he said that using traditional buying methodology such as GRPs was out, that he expected a new marketing model, and saw the Internet as being a part of the mix.

That’s my kind of marketer. Perhaps he had read THE UCLA INTERNET REPORT, which polled 2000 online users to find that the Internet has displaced television as their medium of choice.

Mr. Heyer reacted to his marketing miasma days later by terminating McCann-Erickson’s 60-year relationship with Coca-Cola, ending one of the most abiding partnerships in the history of American advertising. Now, he was sounding a clarion call for all in the media and marketing industries to hear.

This should be the equivalent of the shot that was heard around the world because a marketing giant has taken drastic action saying, "Stop, you are not listening to me and have lost touch with what I want." In one bold move, Mr. Heyer altered the fear factor from “I won’t change because I want to protect my territory" to "We must change or our territory will be threatened."

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Change is scary. Change (in the case of the Interpublic Group of Cos.) can be costly. But it is inevitable. Coke is not the only marketer embracing change. Not long ago General Motors, another one of the top brands in the world, announced a reallocation of dollars from their TV and print advertising budgets to “relationship” areas such as the Internet, sponsorships and direct mail.

Both Coke and GM have uttered the magic word: Internet. Not that a genie will swipe a wand and convert all print and TV dollars into online spending (although at least Amazon thinks it would be OK if he did), but, clearly, all of the research reports and case study successes of Internet advertising are beginning to have an impact. Coke’s positive experience with new rich media technologies such as EyeWonder’s playerless streaming video and GM’s branding and sales lead generation through auto sites like NADAguides.com and Vehix.com have awakened these giants to the dawn of a new media day.

The Internet went though some growing pains to be sure and has suffered through the long economic downturn that has dragged down all media spending, but everyday it is building on the promises of helping marketers reach their audiences more efficiently, with more information and greater chance for dialogue.

Those who don’t not recognize this change, do so, as Mr. Heyer has shown, at their own peril.

Adam Guild is President of Interep Interactive

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